How air travel can harm your health

Melbourne: Falling luggage, toxic cabin air and dirty water—these are just some of the ways in which air travel can harm your health.

Travellers face a range of potential health hazards from the moment they step into the airport and here are just some of the potential problems awaiting you every time you fly:

Turbulence troubles

Turbulence causes serious injuries including broken bones and head trauma every year, according to Australian Transport Safety Bureau records.

Struck by falling luggage

Luggage falling from overhead lockers is another common cause of mid-air pain, with injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to severe head trauma.

"There is compelling evidence that flight attendants and passengers are being injured by excess amounts of oversized carry-on items," the Daily Telegraph quoted US Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President Patricia Friend as saying.

Full-body scanner cancer link

Some scientists fear radiation from the controversial “naked” full-body airport scanners has been dangerously underestimated and could increase the risk of skin cancer.

University of California biochemist David Agard has said that unlike other scanners, the radiation from these devices is delivered at low energy beam levels, with most of the dose concentrated in the skin and underlying tissue.

David Brenner, the head of Columbia University’s Centre for Radiological Research, says the radiation dose to the skin is actually 20 times higher than the official estimate.

Toxic cabin air

Breathing contaminated air cause can cause drowsiness, headaches, respiratory problems or neurological illnesses.

A 2009 investigation into some of the world’s most popular airlines found high levels of a toxin found in modern jet oil fuel inside the cabins.

Ear damage fears

Pain, bleeding and even a ruptured eardrum can happen to passengers experiencing changes in air pressure during flight.

The problem happens if the air pressure in the middle ear and sinuses becomes much higher or lower than the surrounding pressure, warned the Aerospace Medical Association.

This can happen if you have a blockage of any of the passageways caused by infection, allergy or bleeding.

Airports a ‘hotbed of germs’

Before even stepping on the plane travellers are at risk of falling ill because of “filthy” airports.

Transmission of cold, viruses

The spread of colds and flu continues onboard, with a 2004 study finding that travellers are about 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than they are in normal daily life.

Blood clot risks

An increased risk of deep vein thrombosis in air travellers has been widely reported and a recent US study has strengthened the case.

Researchers found that travel was associated with a nearly three-fold increase in the risk of developing blood clots in the veins, especially in the legs.

If the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs it can cause a potentially fatal condition called a pulmonary embolism with the clot risk growing with the length of the trip.

Water warnings

Cabin crew have warned travellers to avoid drinking water from aircraft taps.

Radiation from lightning

Lightning or the related phenomena of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes could expose airline passengers to levels of radiation equivalent to 400 chest X-rays, according to estimates by a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres.

ANI

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